Why professional web design and development is important for your business?
The objective of any effective business website is to clearly promote your goods or services, making everything clear to the consumer on first glance. Clever design ensures your site gets a positive response based on visitors visiting your website on an ongoing basis.
Whatever the size of your business, you should make it as a priority to have a strong online presence. To do this, it is important to obtain the services of a professional web design company.
Getting professional advice for your website can help to increase traffic, grow sales and enhance your online marketing strategy.
There are other things to take into consideration before getting to the design stage such as obtaining and deciding on a domain name, SEO marketing and social media management.
When considering the website design stage, it is important to consider the needs of your consumer. The first visit will always leave a lasting impression and you only have 7 seconds for your website to convey the same messages as any offline store or service would. A welcoming entrance – your home page, easy to navigate, well signposted with a nice customer service area where your potential customers can get all the information they need.
Local SEO Tips – Get Listed on Google Local
Any business with an online presence can usually find a place in Google by registering or claiming their business on Google Places or Google Local. However, to improve your visibility, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is essential for businesses with a more confined and local customer base. SEO can be especially useful for finding new customers and improving online visibility.
Search engines like Google are constantly updating their algorithms (Page Rankings) to provide users with useful search results. It is important to understand how these systems work to ensure that your business is being shown to the right people who are looking for the right things.
Use local listings from Google, Yahoo and Bing. Make sure that your business is featured on all three and that you are using up to date contact information, physical address information, operation hours and photos on your Google Places account. These are all essential tools for local SEO. It is these listings which are used to source the local businesses which are often displayed, complete with contact information and a map, at the top of Google searches.
Google+ Local Business – Google Places has partially merged into Google+ Local Business. So ask your customers with Gmail accounts who are willing to leave a recommendation, to review your services on your Google+ Local page. The higher number of reviews you receive, the better your ranking on Google. Get your customers to share these reviews too as this will all help with your ranking. Even the length of time your brand has been listing will help too. Finally, add videos with high-quality content associated with your Google+ Local page.
Google Maps – Google Maps has recently had a makeover that has brought optimised Google+ pages back into the spotlight again. The viewer has the option to find business results within a Google Maps search via ‘Top reviewers’ and ‘Your circles‘. Clicking the option ‘Top reviewers’ gives you places that have been reviewed by experts on Google+, while the option ‘Your circles’ shows places that are recommended by people in your circles.
Having an optimised Google+ page also makes a huge difference in your local business’ visibility on
To help you rank higher on Google Local Search via Google Maps. Try to do as many of the following as possible:
• Getting expert reviews in your niche on your Google+ Local page.
• Completing your Google+ Local profile.
• Using photos of the place of business section.
• Using accurate details for directions.
Home Page/Custom Landing Page
Having a customised landing page or home page will help rank your business better, whichever your Google Places and Google+ Local are linked to.
The on-page SEO elements and linking profile of this landing page or home page partially decides how well you rank in local Google.
Ensure that a good number of inbound links pointing to your page from locally relevant pages, such as local forums, local review sites, local business listing sites are included on this page.
Add a blog section as well using niche content and location-based keywords.
For local businesses, social media platforms play a big role in its local search ranking. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube give a wide array of opportunities for positive brand exposure to your local audiences.
• Gain a large number of likes on your Facebook page as possible. Try running local competitions or advertise as much as possible to gain these extra likes.
• Encourage content shares on Facebook as much as possible. Local or national competitions can encourage a post to go viral.
• Have inbound links pointing to your site from discussions on local community forums
• Use product or service-related keywords in your brand-page title or description.
• Use location-based keywords in your brand page title or description.
This list of local search ranking factors will help your local business rank higher in Google local. Improving some of these ranking factors may take a good amount of time and effort but they are worth doing. You must remember that improving your Google local ranking is a process that must be constantly worked on; it’s not just a one-time thing.
The Art of Profitable App Entrepreneurship
Statistically, the average person spends at least two hours on their smartphone per day.
When your service or product is in a competitive market, designing a successful mobile application is an efficient way to make it stand out amongst your industry rivals and get ahead. A mobile app is a computer program designed to run on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.
Apps are the perfect way to communicate with tech-savvy people.
The idea of launching your own app development business today is more relevant and mainstream than ever. What helps to give you more leverage in the market is to pick up the so-called art of profitable app entrepreneurship.
Building a mobile app these days is easy. Every app needs to start with the initial idea. Once you have come up with the idea, you need to be sure that there is a place in the market for your app to flourish in by identifying your users and targeting them.
Monetising that same app has become nearly impossible, given how saturated the market is with free options (and potential customers unwilling to pay.
There are largely three monetisation models widely adopted for gaming apps:
1) Free games with in-app purchase,
2) Paid games without in-app purchase and
3) Paid apps with in-app purchase.
By understanding these three monetization models will help you think strategically about how you plan to engage your audience and match that engagement to revenue.
You should consider the following points to ensure your app is worthy of being in the market place:
1) Whilst designing your app, apart from the coding part, design and a well thought through strategy, testing is as essential and critical part of the design stage.
2) Once your app is ready to be launched, create a video to place on your landing page. As people remember 80% of what they have watched, make an informative and comprehensible video to help promote your product.
3) To make your app more profitable, it is imperative that you make it go more viral, which in turn brings in more profit. Therefore make sure that the app is adapted to various platforms. This should then help increase your customer flow and make your mobile app become more popular.
4) Promote your app on as many different social media channels as possible. A lot of people are eager to at least consider acquiring a mobile app via social media.
5) You will probably need to use a smart app store to optimise your app as well. App store optimization is the key to becoming noticeable among an endless number of competing companies.
The process of monetising customers requires a lot of hard work and diligence. If you are determined on achieving your goal, one factor to keep in mind is your users. Users are the main supporters in this game as they define our fates in the marketplace.
Why website maintenance necessary?
If you are using a content management system or any web-based software, then it essential to keep it updated with the latest security patches and bug fixes. You don’t have to be running an e-commerce site for hackers to want to break into your website. Hackers will break into a website and upload Trojan and malware for use in their other attack schemes.
One of the primary ways hackers gain access to a site is through out of date software. As security patches become available, hackers will try to take advantage of websites that are not constantly updating the software on their sites. The last thing you want is for your visitors to get infected by software downloaded from your site. If Google detects malware on your website, they will de-list your site until you get it fixed.
So maintenance of a website is like oxygen to it. The site should be periodically updated in terms of security patches, plugin updates and content updating for SEO. Google crawls the websites with unique content and enlist the website in high searching indexes. The content of a website ensure the existence in the market and everybody gets the information you want to let him know.
Are You Using Social Media for Customer Services?
Hearing what your customers say about you on social media can be an invaluable tool, but exploring how to provide great customer service through social media, whether you are just getting started or taking it to the next level is a very important tool to have.
How to use Social Media for Customer Services?
In order to provide great customer service through social media, you need to determine where to focus your time and resources. Whilst marketing efforts may help to drive traffic to social media sites, it’s important to keep up to date with where else your customer may already be socialising. Most companies would use Facebook and Twitter as their main focus. However larger companies may find that their customers also use Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat to name but a few.
Social Media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have evolved to become more prominent platforms to market and advised products on. They are also valid and important channels though which consumers look to receive customer comments and service too.
With tech-savvy young consumers communicating via social media channels more than ever as opposed to over the phone or by email. For these consumers, the idea of finding a customer service phone number and waiting on hold for half an hour or of sending an email and waiting hours for a response, is likely to seem cumbersome, slow and inefficient.
Through the main social media platforms, your allocated customer service staff member can receive an immediate notification of when a customer messages you or submits a post and can get back to them straight away.
Customer service via social media is in fact, the closest a company that doesn’t have direct face-to-face customer interaction can get to providing a fully personal service and removes known customer annoyances like keypad menus for customer service phone lines and automated email replies.
On a final note, social media as a method of customer service, also provides benefits for both companies and customers in terms of the follow up. For the customer, if a problem is not immediately resolved or a question instantaneously answered, there is already a direct channel of communication open for further contact. That means that they won’t have to go through the rigmarole of calling the customer service line and risk speaking to a different individual who isn’t familiar with their issue.
Instead they can simply reply to the company’s most recent message, comment on their post or do whatever is most appropriate for the platform in question and the allocated staff member from the company will have access to the full string of communication so far.
For the company’s point of view, the ease and immediacy of communication combines to make it much simpler to follow up on customer service enquiries and to check with customer’s that their experience was satisfactory. A quick social media message to check that a customer’s query was effectively answered, would be welcomed by most consumers as well.
Difference Between Web Design and Web Development
Confusing with the difference between web design and web development is an all too common mistake that people make if they are not familiar with the industry but, a designer and developer have very different roles.
Web Design is the most common term used. A “web designer” refers to a very broad set of skills, one of which is visual design.
The “design” part deals with the customer-facing or “front end” part of the website.
A web designer focuses on how a site looks and how the customers interact with it. Good web designers use the principles of design to create a great looking site. It involves every aspect of how the site appears and functions, taking into account the principles of good visual design as well as a deep understanding of user experience and the client’s needs. A good web designer makes a site look great and work well for the site user. Sometimes a web designer will write mark-up code for the website such as in HTML, CSS, and XML.
Web development refers to writing the actual programming or logic code and scripts that take a web design into a functional working website. It’s the “how” behind the “what” of a design.
Developers focus on how a site works, what actions can be performed on the site, and how to make all the invisible things (that happen behind the scenes on websites) actually work.
Web development comes in two parts; the front-end development and back-end development. Some of the skills overlap, but they do have very different purposes during the web design process.
Back-end development deals with the more advanced programming and interactions on the pages. A back-end web developer focuses on how a site works and how the customers get things done on it using certainly functionality. This could include working with code that interfaces with database or creating features like Ecommerce shopping carts that connect to online payment processors and more.
Good web developers may know how to program scripts like PHP or ASP.NET. They will also understand about how web forms work and how different software packages and API (application programming interfaces) can be used to connect those different packages.
Ultimately, when you are looking for a professional to work on your site, you need to consider whether you require a web designer or web developer.
The Value of Content Before Website Design
Designing your website is more than just about creating nice images. To be able to understand what your requirements are, your goals and the kind of customer you want to attract, a web design company needs your content first of all. Having content in hand allows the web design company to think about the best was to present you and your vision. It gives them the opportunity to suggest ideas that may not have been thought of previously. It also gives the web design company a foundation on where to start. All of these ideas will help your message and ideas be conveyed to your clients and potential customers.
In Essence, creating a website without content is like building a house without plans. It can often lead to encountering problems which takes both time and money to fix.
The Website Content normally consists of the following:
By having upfront content available, even if it is in the raw stages, better decisions and recommendations can be made about the site’s design and layout. As a design company, it helps to know how the layout of the website should look and fit to each specific task (or message). In addition to this, by having content for forms, product layouts and galleries, your website can be optimised better for your visitors’ experience.
Whilst graphic style in important, it should happen at the correct time among the project to really permit you to showcases the web site content.
Since your website is a long-term advertising investment, make sure that you spend the time working out your content way in advance before the initial meeting with a website designer.
It is therefore worthwhile considering the following:-
- Decide what is and isn’t needed on your website.
- Make sure your content is in line with both your business and your website goals.
- Provide a first draft of content to your website designer.
- Consider Landing page content for SEO purposes.
- Think about how your Home page and blog/news sections will look like as this is what your potential customers/clients will remember you most for.
Overall, thorough and careful planning, can help you end up with an amazing designed website that will work effectively for you.
Successful Website Design Projects Begin With Solid Project Scoping
Whether or not you’ve been part of a web design project, chances are you’ve at least heard someone’s opinion of their experience with one. It could be singing their praise about how amazing their new site turned out to being the most awful experience ever. So how can there be so much variance between design projects?
Have a plan
Having a plan goes far beyond knowing the ultimate goal. Having a plan means both the web designer and customer have a clear understanding of the steps it will take to reach that final goal as well as having an idea of the different phases of the project?
The best way to accomplish this is to deliver a design brief to your web designer. A good design brief can not only provide all the project information and expectations on paper, but its a perfect opportunity to show what kind of website you are looking for. It is also good practice to include the design brief as part of your contract. A good design brief should have the following elements:
Establish points of contact (including subject matters etc)
- Website Objectives
- What are the main challenges and goals for this website?
- What does success look like for this website?
- What does failure look like for this website?
SMART Goal Creation
- What are the Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely goals of this website?
Are there current goals set in place for the website?
- Traffic? Leads? Customers? Revenue?
- Sitemap – Content – Imagery – Stylesheet
- Completion date – When is the first round of designs due? Is it just the homepage or are sub pages included in the first round of deliverables as well?
- Revisions – How long is the revision period? How many revisions are there? What can be included in the revision process?
- Imagery / Content – When is final content and imagery due? Who provides what? Are there any additional costs involved?
- Testing – When will testing begin? How long will testing last? What will be tested?
- Launch – What is the launch date? Any redirects necessary?
- Next Steps – What happens after launch? What sort of follow up is required? Any ongoing maintenance or additional work?
- Any domain, hosting, social or other credentials necessary to complete the project.
- If SEO will be part of the project, what considerations will be taken during the design and development of the site to ensure good optimisation practices?
Without quality content, it doesn’t matter how great all your initial ideas are and chances are you will not be happy with the finished product. This is why relevant and quality content is so important.
Your content must ALWAYS be targeted to your target buyer personas.Every aspect of your content should focus on solving for your customers.
The most important piece of advice I give to my clients looking to have a web redesign, it is to invest a great deal of time and money if necessary, into producing quality content.
Whether this means investigating in a Video crew or photographer to come into the business to take some professional photos or film of the staff, location, and activities. Or it might be hiring a professional content writer to write the verbiage for the site. Either way, the investment you make in having quality content will have the greatest Return of Investment (ROI) of any aspect in your web design project.
Make sure both you and the Web Design company ask each other lots of questions.
If I have a solid understanding for your company and your project, I can determine if we are a suitable fit. And more importantly, I can determine if my team can successfully execute your project.
The more questions I ask, the more prepared I am to offer a solution. As the buyer, you should want a solution and not just an estimate.
Identify and Articulate Your Requirements
At Silicon Technix, every web design client we take on is unique. Our goal is to obtain a solid understanding of a client’s needs and adapt our standard development plan or process to meet those needs.
Many times we receive requests for proposals where the client has not yet thought about the website’s functional requirements or even what type of visual presentation they would like.
A lot of enquires will include the word “simple” but the reality is that the design of the website is not be at all simple.
If you have a list of aesthetic or functional needs in mind, document these and present them with your inquiry. This will provide a great starting point for discussion
For more simple projects this can be determined within the sales and scoping process. For more complex projects, it would be best to have paid discovery phase where a trusted WordPress developer is paid to work through the definition and documentation of your needs.
Require Proper Documentation and Agree All Pertinent Items in Writing
The more your web design company and yourself document at the start of the initial project how you perceive the final website to look like, the less you’ll debate about this at the latter stages of the design process.
The more project deliverables are defined and documented up front, the less confusion and misunderstandings will occur midway through the project. The proposal is there to give a project outline and it will include terms and conditions. It is carried out so both parties know exactly what will be delivered. This documentation also gives you, the buyer, an opportunity to review and validate if what is expected to be delivered will match your expectations for the project.
The proposal also gives a baseline for both discussion and modification if necessary as well as a reference point if there is confusion later on in the project.
If at this stage, the proposal lacks lacking in details, ask for more specifics. If you feel something was missed, ask for it is to be added. If something doesn’t make sense, ask for clarification.
Ongoing Communication is Critical
The cornerstone of any great design project is communication. Without communication, your project is doomed from the start. Communication must be open and often, from the beginning of the project, until even after the project is finished.
From the client’s perspective, they usually have an idea of what they want in their heads. However, it is often hard for non-creative types of people to explain what they want their end Website to look like. This could cause the entire project to get off on the wrong foot.
At Silicon Technix, we normally put together a creative brief for our clients to read through at the beginning of the project to help guide them through the creative process.
By following all of these key points, will help you to have a successful web design project.
By maintaining an open dialogue from the beginning, where you ask questions and provide feedback throughout the process, you will make sure that expectations are aligned and both yourself and the web design company can ensure that the finished objective of a satisfactory website is met.
The hottest trend in Web design is making intentionally ugly difficult sites
For certain companies, the latest trend in Website design is to deliberate make their websites look bad or ugly. These sites refrain from using the traditional user-friendly interfaces that have long been the industry’s standard design. Instead they are being built on imperfect, hand-coded HTML. Within the code, you can see if it’s really a streamlined application or it’s a very rough, handmade, HTML website. They also get their inspiration using 1990s style graphics.
In 2014, Pascal Deville termed this type of design, “Web brutalism.” He stated that it’s not only what you can see, it’s also how it’s been built. With Brutalism, it remains one of those things whereby you know it when you see it and in recent time, you tend to see it more and more. However, just because the website doesn’t look aesthetically appealing, it doesn’t mean that it commercially it can’t be successful.
After speaking to a few of these alternative designers about their designs, he established that they did this to create some wonderful things on the web without using the so-called ‘best practices.
Stastically, websites that are designed more simplistically like the Web Brutal sites are, tend to engage better with the consumer. Since the brain prefers to think about things that are easy to think about.
It is therefore important to know what design choices are prototypical for a site in your particular market sector, but it is even more important to find evidence that supports those design choices resulting in people engaging with your company and ultimately leading to a purchase. As a result, a lot of designers make bad choices. Without doing the research, you could make them too.
So when considering redesigning or building your website from scratch, considering these points:-
- Follow prototypical e-commerce layout themes.
- Be much more open with whitespace.
- Consider using Images which feature a single product with high-resolution pictures & contrasting colours.
By following the principal of having a less appealing but simpler website, will ultimate lead to customers being encouraged to purchase additional items or upgrade their purchase very effectively, time and time again.
Ensure Your Website is GDPR Compliant
There are 14 points in total first 5 points that must be followed by every website. Other 9 points are followed according to the nature and requirement of the website..
- Cookie & Privacy Popup Notice
- SSL Certificate
- Enquiry & Contact Form
- Newsletter Signups
- Payment Gateways
- Pseudonymisation or Anonymisation
- User Account Creation
- Live Chats
- Connected Email
- Social Media Account Connection
- Google Analytics (Tracking Systems)
- CRM connection
A page on your website that states what cookies are used on the site, the purpose of the cookies, both yours and from third parties and what data you capture with them and what you do with it. All the information must be shown to the user of the website.
This leads us on to the infamous ‘cookie pop up’, ‘cookie top/bottom bar.’
2. Cookie & Privacy Popup Notice
The policy pages state which cookies are employed (both yours and third-party ones) and that you have to accept the terms to be able to fully utilise the site. It is possible that since some cookies are purely functional and not data gathering tools, that the website won’t work correctly for you. You will have to request to the website owner to disclose what information you hold about the user and make it deleted permanently.
4. SSL Certificate
Secure Sockets Layer certificate – this is the encryption code process that sits on the hosting space of your website. Its improvements makes the browser bar display a secure notice and sometimes go green and shows a padlock symbol. The purpose is to securely encrypt the information that are entered into any forms or fields on a website. They can be purchased and installed from £99 per year. Several different SSL certificates are available, all encrypting the data to the same level (256 bit – 2048) but some have further protection and insurances. There are free ones being offered with regard to a project called ‘Let’s Encrypt’ but it’s doubtful this offer will last long and doesn’t come with any assurances.
5. Enquiry & Contact Form
If your website has an enquiry form for people to send you messages, it is advisable to ensure the following are adhered to:
- The website has an SSL
- The details are not stored in the website’s SQL database unless stored encrypted
- Whenever any data is sent to you by email, your email service provider must follow to GDPR rules and that the email has to be stored and sent according to GDPR secure ways. Many email service providers are there over internet, like Google mail and Outlook 365 are updating their terms of service according to GDPR. It is worthy to check their policies to be certain your email provider complies. Emails are the most common places where private data gets abused and misused or lost.
- Do you print out the email with the enquiry details on it? If your company undertakes this, it can be another data risk. Ensure you have got a shredding process in place to safeguard emails with user’s private details and preventing them from just going into the bin!
- No pre-ticked boxes to automatically sign the enquirer up to and including newsletter.
- The enquiry is explicit to that instance. You can’t add the user’s any details to your marketing database unless they have fully agreed to it by using a separate tick box.
6. Newsletter Signups
Have you got the facility for users to subscribe to your website to receive a newsletter from you? Whether you send that out individually from your desktop email app or from a system like Mailchimp, Mizmoz, e-Shot, Communigator etc, you must make sure the tick box that handles this subscription is set to the user has to OPT-IN and not opt out.
If you offer a monthly marketing newsletter, there must be a separate tick box to enable them to select. It cannot be a ‘required’ field. You will also have to provide another separate tick box if you give the user’s details to another party. Make sure that the emails you send out all have an unsubscribe link too.
7. Payment Gateways
8. Pseudonymisation or Anonymisation
– This one is the most difficult to resolve.
Most websites that have user accounts and store information about its users (like your Amazon account storing your name, address, birth date etc) store the data in an SQL database. This is usually a web-based database that the website calls to, queries and delivers your details when you sign in. More often than not, unless its online banking, these details will never be stored encrypted and so if the SQL file was accessed, the content could be clearly read.
It is very difficult to both store and retrieve data in an encrypted way and is why most sites don’t. However, together with GDPR, ‘pseudonymisation’ means that websites will have to start moving towards the users being identified by a username only and that all of those other data is encrypted so that there’s no possible connection between the user and the stored details. You will have to confer with your website developer and host about planning this change as it will require time, planning and require a budget.
9. User Account Creation
If your site is an E-commerce one or allows a user to create an account for access to services behind a login area, you will have to ensure you have both the SSL installed (as referred to in point 6) and also work towards the data being stored using pseudonyms. Recent headline examples (Uber, TalkTalk, Experian) have shown that even major internet giants aren’t doing this, so better approach to your web developer about tips on how to move towards this process.
10. Live Chats
11. Connected Email
All email services in the market and the storage of email from all with whom you are connected, data must be stored according to DPA (Data Protection Act) & GDPR guidelines and instructions. Briefly, be sure you store and save your email data securely, must use good anti-virus applications and archive and delete unnecessary email completely. Ensure you have a Data Retention policy – a statement by which your organisation follows when it comes to how you store data and for how long prior to it being deleted. Typical business data retention policies are 2 years – anything older than that is usually out of date anyway. List of regulated industries that are excepted to the rule here are – financial services, medical, Governmental, HMRC etc – these businesses may need you to keep data records longer, particularly with regards to accounting and finance. You will need to check with your regulated body if you fall into this bracket.
12. Social Media Account Connection
Social media sites that are used for your organisation also falls under GDPR. Whilst you don’t need to seek permission from each person who ‘likes’ your page or ‘follows’ you, ensure that any information gathered directly from people with whom you interact on these sites is handled relative to the GDPR privacy guidelines. If you’ve had a chat using Facebook Messenger with someone about an enquiry, ensure the chat history is completely deleted when it’s done. Get the person to email you to enable you to hold the formal connection outside of a social media channel.
13. Google Analytics (Tracking Systems)
You must enable the anonymisation option in Google Analytics to properly conform to GDPR. Google Analytics records user’s IP addresses in visitor reports and this is deemed as ‘identifiable information ‘. You don’t really need it so turn it off. What’s not fully clear right now is how this will affect geographic reports. We’ll update on this in the coming months.
14. CRM connection
The (ICO) has begun a committed advice line to help small organisations to prepare themselves for the new (GDPR) laws. The service is aimed at people running small businesses or charities and recognises the particular problems they face getting ready for the new law.
You can Learn more here: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/resources-and-support/getting-ready-for-the-gdpr-resources/